It was not the Victory Monday he would have wanted, but that would never stop Terry McLaurin from stepping into a room full of kids with a smile on his face. To get the week started, The wide receiver stopped by Barry Farm Recreation Center to hand out Thanksgiving food and other supplies in collaboration with Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) D.C.
"I love being around young people and feeling their energy," McLaurin said. "Just being able to share my experience and joking around with them is something I really enjoy … They definitely brighten my day."
The foster families and advocates are getting pretty used to seeing McLaurin's face out in the community. Giving back to kids is one of his biggest passions and linking arms with CASA D.C. has become a favorite way of getting involved in events throughout the year.
A main reason McLaurin and CASA D.C. make such good partners is because they share many of the same goals.
"They've been a group that is really passionate about a lot of the things I'm passionate about: empowering young kids, helping out families in need and just putting on great experiences and events for them," McLaurin said. "Anything that I've wanted to do or had ideas of, they've been great partnering with and making them come to life and go really smoothly. I'm really excited to continue my relationship with CASA D.C., because the way they see giving back to the community, the DMV area is the same way I see it."
The 2023 Thanksgiving event was the second of its kind with McLaurin and CASA D.C. In addition to last year's food giveaway, the two have also come together for his last two birthdays, using the celebration as an opportunity to give back to those in foster care and those impacted by the juvenile justice system. All of these experiences with someone like McLaurin, who is consistent about his presence, have made a big impact.
"I think it's so powerful to have Terry as a partner that's not just kind of popping up once in a blue moon but to really have a lasting relationship both multiple times of the year and over years at this point," said CASA D.C.'s interim chief of staff Julie Johnson. "He's such an inspiration to our youth, especially in D.C. with a lot of proud Commanders fans, so they are really excited to meet with him and the fact that some of them have gotten to meet with him many times is just great."
Teresa Summers of Clinton, Maryland, was one of those at the Barry Farm Thanksgiving distribution event who had met McLaurin multiple times. Picking up food and other items with her son and niece while chatting with McLaurin, Summers noted that, time and again, it was "nice to see him out in the community helping out."
Helping out some, joining in a sacred process with others. While half of McLaurin's Barry Farm visit was spent passing out food, the other half was spent at an arts and craft table with kids making turkeys comprised of paper plates, googly eyes and construction paper. Even though he sat in a chair that put his knees up to his shoulders, the Commanders team captain had an awesome time laughing and fielding tough questions from his tiny crafting pals.
From making art to making memories to making sure food is on the table for families in need this Thanksgiving, this Monday night at Barry Farm Rec Center gave everybody involved a lot to be grateful for.
"The thing I try to say to people at these events always is appreciate family, appreciate what you have and genuinely try to pay it forward," McLaurin said. "You don't necessarily have the money or the resources to give back, you can just give your time, give your wisdom, your encouragement, your love."